I think about and write about loss a lot because I see so much of it in my clinical practice. No one can escape the emotions and feelings that come with it. No matter what type of loss, be it the death of a loved one or an ambiguous loss, such as the ability to accomplish tasks, loss is hard.
The holidays may be particularly hard when experiencing loss. Traditionally the holidays are a time of joyful anticipation. Traditions, decorating, gifts, spirituality, specialty foods, and the gathering of friends and family may be challenging and may change in the face of loss.
First, it is crucial to give ourselves compassion, grace and permission to grieve during this time. Second, understand that every person grieves differently and what works for someone else may not work for you. Examples of coping strategies for loss may include but are not limited to:
- Sharing feelings
- Connecting with others
- Choosing a specific time and place to talk about and feel the loss (like in a support group or in therapy)
- Breaking down the loss into manageable parts
- Looking for meaning in loss
- Seeking out information to help oneself understand grief
- Spiritual reliance and guidance
- Physical activity such as yoga or running
- Creative expression
Lastly, no matter what type of loss you may be experiencing, it is vital to understand that no one can ever truly know how you feel and vice versa. While it can be helpful to have people who can empathize, and to be empathetic toward others, honoring our own unique experiences around loss is critical to healing. While navigating loss, remember that if a coping strategy does not resonate with you, that’s okay. Sometimes you won’t know until you try. You may find tweaking something to better suit your values, beliefs and personality is the key to making a particular idea or strategy work for you.
While the plethora of coping strategies is too much to list here, Military OneSource has resources available to help you through your grief journey.